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RE: report on Leveraging ICT for the Base of the Pyramid

From: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>
Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 17:57:28 -0400
Message-ID: <SNT142-W41DE80B443266379AF7A2BB3F20@phx.gbl>
To: <boyera@w3.org>
CC: <public-mw4d@w3.org>

Hi, once more.
> Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011 12:42:17 +0200
> From: boyera@w3.org
> To: cewcathar@hotmail.com
> CC: public-mw4d@w3.org
> Subject: Re: report on Leveraging ICT for the Base of the Pyramid
> Hi,
> > 2. I note your objection to making commercial sustainability (profit) a
> > criteria. However I (personally) imagine that the phone projects that
> > work with small businesses (such as Village Phone, Zain, Madagascar; and
> > the Djaama Phone Orange system develolped my MNO Orange) are the way to
> > go, mainly because these businesses have other revenue, they don't
> > depend on the phone; so when people get individual phones the businesses
> > do not die; they just have to find a new market, which they are quite
> > used to doing. Of course the business should be small, should feed back
> > to, hire from the community.
> I didn't make any objection on the use of the lens of commercial 
> sustainability as a selection criteria. My point is that it is a very 
> specific focus, and should be highlighted as such. 
I think though it's important to the individuals who are going to invest in this.

If no individuals have to invest their savings in the hopes of making income, then I am less worried about it, though the commercial end still merits mentioning of course, but in this case donor funding or whatever is fine too IMO -- if the consumer shows interest and participates (you need to see consumer participation to evaluate these since you cannot evaluate these simply by the profit margin; so I may agree with you some here after all).
> There are lots of 
> very interesting output in this report, but this is relevant to this 
> category/context and not to delivering ICT to the BOP in general imho.
> > 3. Regarding how to best reach rural, international farmers, I don't
> > quite agree with you that SMS text broadcasts of crop prices for
> > different markets, if encoded with symbols in a graph-like format, would
> > be much less accessible to rural farmers than voice information.
> > Thus I think unlike you that, if done right, SMS data or mixed SMS data
> > with pictures (for rural farmers) is workable.
> Here i was not trying to debate whether SMS or other text-base option is 
> workable for illiterate farmers or not, but im saying that, based on our 
> analysis of current systems deployed, they are unable to reach the 
> targeted customers directly.
> My own approach is to look at voice-based system for now, because this 
> is a technology that is available right now, and deployable using 
> current phone and network. I believe that there are surely other 
> options. For instance, icon-based interfaces has a lot of potential 
> imho, but need further research.
> That said, what you are describing, i would summarize it as using ascii 
> art, is interesting. At least, this is the first time i'm hearing such 
> idea, and i found it quite interesting. Are you aware of anybody doing 
> similar work (using ascii art as a way to provide interface to 
> illiterate people) ? that said, SMS, in 99% of the countries and network 
> i know, would not be able to support unicode and U+1F35A, but it is 
> worth trying
Would not icon-based interfaces use Unicode too?  Or not?  (Sorry to not know this; I realize Unicode SMS is not supported well not at all in the third world and that voice is; but the SMS broadcasts are free to recipients; also I guess with my system you could go to plain text SMS graphics but you would have to then read the crop names, which might discourage some (but maybe not; surely they get used to seeing those).

My reason for arguing for the SMS:  at the end what do the farmers who buy into the mobile system have?  Everyone will buy into it. The prices will not fluctuate much.  If they come out literate with skills in reading graphs, visuals, more, that's a plus; of course while I know farmers can usually predict the rain better than weathermen they don't always know when  river is going to crest so that's an advantage to having the phones.  However I'm of course interested in combining the SMS broadcast with voice input from farmers regarding the markets/prices; the prices might ultimately be keyed in though.
> > 4. Another note -- if it's allowable to take this space to describe an
> > "ideal project" instead of just comment on the report:
> This space is surely appropriate for discussing that kind of project, 
> but perhaps i would recommend you start a specific separate thread.
Thanks.  I'm still formulating this project but will do.
(Thanks very much.)

--C. E. Whitehead
> Cheers
> Stephane
> -- 
> Stephane Boyera		stephane@w3.org
> W3C				+33 (0)6 73 84 87 27
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> France

Received on Sunday, 25 September 2011 21:57:57 UTC

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